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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 30, 2006

OHA, Lingle will lobby for Akaka bill

By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer

At least five of the nine members of the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs board of directors will head to Washington, D.C., early next month to lobby and gather support for the Akaka bill.

Joining Chairwoman Haunani Apoliona will be members Rowena Akana, Dante Carpenter, Boyd Mossman and Os Stender, according to Office of Hawaiian Affairs Administrator Clyde Namu'o, who also will make the trip.

The trustees will leave June 6, the day a petition for cloture on the legislation is filed. Namu'o said he expects a cloture vote on June 8.

The cloture will determine if the Senate will get a full airing on the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005 dubbed the Akaka bill for its lead sponsor, Sen. Daniel Akaka. It proposes initiating a process that could lead to establishment of a federally recognized Native Hawaiian entity.

To be successful, supporters of cloture must get at least 60 of 100 senators to agree. If approved, it would open the way for up to 30 hours of Senate debate, essentially halting other business. Supporters see the cloture as necessary because six Republican senators have blocked the bill from coming up for debate on the floor.

Gov. Linda Lingle said last week that in response to requests by Apoliona and Akaka, she also will travel to Washington, primarily to talk to Republican senators.

This month, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights issued a report recommending that Congress reject the bill, claiming it discriminates based on race or national origin.

Akaka and other supporters of the bill have fought for six years to get the measure passed.

Supporters maintain that besides being the right thing for the U.S. government to do, the Akaka bill is needed to stave off the legal challenges against programs that give preference to Hawaiians.

Reach Gordon Y.K. Pang at gpang@honoluluadvertiser.com.